It's challenging for any actor to take on a role that people have come to associate so closely with the actor who portrayed it originally.
But Jeremy Renner is no stranger to challenges.
[Update (Nov 10th): The Wrap confirmed that no offer has been made to Renner]
Kurt Russell owned the role, and it will be difficult not to think of him while watching any re-imagined version. At different points, Len Wiseman and Brett Ratner were slated to direct the project - with Gerard Butler attached to star. Fans of the original film saw any combination of these choices as potentially disastrous, and many were relieved when production failed to move forward.
Since that time, New Line has decided to revisit the project, tapping Breck Eisner (The Crazies) to direct, a fair choice for the task; though, perhaps the largest piece to the the Escape From New York puzzle, is a workable casting choice for Snake Plissken.
No one is going to bring the same cocky charm, or boyish appeal, that Russell brought to the role. His infectious smile, and campy one-liner delivery, solidified his place in the hearts of many, and attempting to repeat his interpretation would be a mistake.
Jeremy Renner does feel like an option with some legs. However, if one were to aim for an approximation of the original, then Gerard Butler actually has more of a sense of charm than Renner. What Renner does have is the requisite cockiness the character needs, and the talent to bring something original as well as surprising to the role.
As we know, there is a steady stream of remakes finding their way down the Hollywood pipeline. Geek genre fan favorites, and horror films, curry particular favor in the remake universe. Much beloved properties are continually getting updates, reboots, long awaited sequels... or prequels.
Often, there is fan resistance to continued franchise development (or revisitation) and for good reason - disaster, as we know, can and does strike even the most well-intentioned projects (Indy 5).
However, I must admit to feeling a fair amount of intrigue in regards to this latest proposed remake of Escape from New York.
For those who don't remember, or have not been exposed to Escape From New York, take a look at the synopsis for the original 1981 film:
"In 1997, when the US President crashes into Manhattan, now a giant maximum security prison, a convicted bank robber is sent in for a rescue."
It's interesting to look at imagined versions of the future - once they've already become the past - and Escape From New York is definitely a tempting film to revisit. A new vision is a more appropriate choice for this remake - something fresh, modernized, and creative. An Eisner/Renner combo has the potential to do just that. I imagine a slightly darker comedic tone and a refreshed, and perhaps starker, visual interpretation.
I don't want to count my snake eggs before they're hatched but this remake might be one to keep an eye on - and I'm approaching it with a sense of hopeful, if cautious, optimism.
Source: Bloody Disguising